I’ve always heard the saying “history repeats itself.” As I have grown and matured, I’ve seen evidence this is true. Clothing styles that my parents used to wear are now fashionable again. There’s a franchise baking company called Nothing Bundt Cakes that has become successful for bringing back the popular bundt cake from the 70’s with a little twist. The old is new again.
With that perspective, I was not at all surprised to hear a story on Newsbeat radio from the New York Post recently titled “The Ku Klux Klan is slowly rising again.” For a moment I was shocked. When I was growing up, talk of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was fairly common. As blacks, we were very aware they existed and understood their intent. However, it has been a while since I heard talk of that organization. But as soon as I heard it, I remembered. The KKK is a white supremacist organization founded in 1866. Throughout its notorious history, factions of the secret fraternal organization have used acts of terrorism – including murder, lynching, arson, rape and bombing, to oppose the granting of civil rights to African Americans.” These heinous acts were committed hidden under the shield of white hoods and robes, usually in the dead of night. In light of all the brutality escalating in our country, the rise of the KKK does not surprise me. In the news story, Klan leaders said they feel that US politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. In the twilight of President Barack Obama’s presidency, membership is increasing.
There are a number of studies and speculation regarding whether race relations in America have improved in the last eight years. The answer varies depending on who you ask. Here’s what I believe. President Obama’s election brought out the hidden racism that has always existed in this country. While we would like to call our country a “melting pot,” many in this country do not want to be led by anyone who actually reflects the diversity of this country, whether black, female or otherwise. They see it as losing power. “As long as a white male is in charge, history will maintain itself and all will be right with the world.” The entire world is laughing at the United States right now as they watch the shenanigans around the current presidential campaign. People are so intent on making sure we don’t repeat actually having diversity of thought and race in the White House that the pendulum has swung to the complete opposite direction; willing to accept just anyone, just to maintain the status quo.
There’s a quote I love by Maya Angelou that says “when people show you who they are, believe them.” I live by this quote and have engrained it into my children over the years. The identifiers of the Ku Klux Klan are their white robes and hoods. This is by design, so you aren’t able to see who they are. On the contrary, when people and candidates publically belittle, berate and incite hatred, it is very clear who they are. When we support those people with our money, time or attention, we are also showing who we are. All history is not worth repeating. Some things should be labeled as just that…history, never to be repeated. Yet…here we are. Showing our outrage on Facebook and social media is not enough. As American citizens, we take a stand by ensuring we leverage the rights we have been afforded on the backs of our ancestors. America will follow the path of those in power. We can affect those in power with our votes. We must not be apathetic and assume someone else will do it or assume our votes do not matter. Every vote matters. The state of this country rests on our shoulders. If we don’t want history to repeat itself, we have to stand for what is right. We must be the light of this world in a time of darkness.